Iraq star denied UK work permit
Nashat Akram's dreams of playing for Manchester City have suffered a setback.
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2008 12:14 GMT

Nashat Akram played a key role in Iraq's Asian Cup triumph, and impressed Sven Goran Eriksson [AFP]

Nashat Akram's hopes of becoming the first Iraqi to play in the English Premier League have been dashed after Manchester City failed to secure a UK work permit for the talented midfielder.
The Premier League club announced on Friday that it had failed in an appeal against the rejection of the permit application, despite manager Sven-Goran Eriksson making a personal appearance at the decisive hearing.
Akram vowed to use the Home Office (interior ministry) decision as motivation to take Iraq to greater heights and qualify for the World Cup in 2010.
"It was my big dream to become the first Iraqi player to play in the English Premier League," the 21-year-old told Reuters by telephone from Dubai.

"I will prove that Iraqi players deserve to play in any league in the world."

Nashat Akram

"I have the ambition to show the skills of Iraqi players in the strongest league in the world.
"I will prove that Iraqi players deserve to play in any league in the world."
City had agreed to transfer Akram from United Arab Emirates club Al-Ain after he had impressed the coaching staff during a recent trial at the club.
"This is a big blow and a great disappointment to us," Eriksson said.
"I have huge sympathy for Nashat. He is a very good footballer with an excellent international pedigree.
"He has now returned to the Middle East and we will keep in touch with him.
"He is somebody who we will maintain an interest in for the long term."
Akram was one of the stars of the Iraq side that won the Asian Cup for the first time in July of last year and was also part of the squad that reached the semi-finals of the 2004 Olympic football tournament.
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